THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH is consulting on proposals to provide ‘free’ NHS hospital car-parking for inpatients and their visitors. This is a significant consultation document that unfortunately is only available online.

Car parking at hospitals is an emotive issue. It can really affect a patient’s and visitor’s view of a particular hospital and time spent in it. From that point of view alone it is a real shame that this consultation document is not more widely available.

The Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham summarises the problem in his introduction to the consultation document:

Poorly managed and costly parking services at hospitals can add considerable stress and hardship to families who, by definition, are already going through an anxious time. Families of the sickest patients can see parking costs really rack up, limiting the visits from family and friends because they can not afford to go every day. That in turn can affect the recovery process.”

While free car parking for visitors to inpatients is proposed within the consultation document to be achieved over the next three years, it is qualified by the need of the NHS to cover its costs so that it can maximise investment into healthcare itself. It is estimated that revenue from car parking charges raises up to £180 million.

Of course an increase in free car parking could lead to increased congestion meaning that some people would not be able to park at all at peak times. The management of this is considered by the consultation document.

The documents and consultation response form are available from the Department of Health at NHS Car Parking: Consultation on Improving Access for Patients.

The consultation period ends on 23rd February 2010.

Other information of interest:

ERYLINk – Local Involvement Network

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